This is a great spring or summer salad that’s a perfect accompaniment to a vegan BBQ and always goes over as a welcome surprise. When a vegan is cooking I think people expect the salad to be green. Not so here. The recipe is based on an Italian octopus salad that I once watched a friend order and thoroughly enjoy. It was a very simple salad and so is this one. The grilled oyster mushrooms are tender and meaty, contrasting the brightness and crunch of celery, onion and parsley. Mild arame lends a hint of the ocean, while salt-cured olives add a bitter brininess. It’s all dressed simply with lemon and olive oil. If you really enjoy mushrooms, like I do, this one is definitely for you.


Oyster Mushroom Salad

Serves 4

-1 lb oyster mushrooms
-2 stalks celery, halved & sliced
-¼ small red onion, diced
-¼ cup dried arame*
-¼ cup salt cured black olives, halved
-4 tbsp olive oil + extra
-1 lemon, ½ juiced, rest cut into wedges
-1 large handful parsley, roughly chopped
-salt & pepper
-red chili flakes (optional)

1.    Start by dividing mushrooms into 2 oz. pieces, leaving the stems on to make grilling easier. Toss mushrooms with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and a pinch of salt and place on a medium-high grill. Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side, flip and cook 2-3 more minutes. You’re looking for nice grill marks and for the mushrooms to soften up and release some of their liquid. Alternatively, you could sauté mushrooms on medium heat for about 5 minutes. When they’re cooked, discard tough parts of stems and roughly chop mushrooms into ½ to 1-inch pieces, sprinkle with salt to taste.

2.    Meanwhile, soak arame in filtered water for about 15 minutes or until softened. Drain and pat dry with a towel.

3.    When mushrooms have chilled, combine with arame, remaining 2 tbsp olive oil, juice of ½ lemon (or to taste) and the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and toss. Salt and pepper to taste. I like to chill this salad and serve it cold but warm is quite good as well. Serve with an additional drizzle of olive oil, a bit more parsley and a wedge of lemon. 

*Arame is a seaweed of deep rust colored strands. It comes dried and can be found at Japanese or Asian groceries or easily enough online. It’s one of the more mild seaweeds, offering an umami flavor without being too overpowering. Even if you’re hesitant about seaweeds, give this one a try. You might be surprised.